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A Pilgrimage to the Seamus Heaney HomePlace

Updated: Feb 16


Hello and welcome to my first blog; musings on life, work, family and everything in between.


We’ve got through the longest month of the year and looking forward to brighter days.  However, I’ve been thinking about our New Year trip to Belfast (my hometown) to visit family and friends, specifically our visit to the Seamus Heaney HomePlace. 

Mr L is a huge fan of Heaney’s work and couldn’t wait to pay homage to one of his literary heroes. I came away from this trip with a renewed enthusiasm for Seamus Heaney’s poetry.

Mr L and a photo of Seamus Heaney

Seamus Heaney spent his younger years in the Bellaghy area - the place shaped his life and provided inspiration throughout his career.  The HomePlace is in the middle of Bellaghy and is a wonderful tribute to the poet and the man.  Visitors are given an audio guide for the main exhibition and as you wander through the gallery looking at photos and artefacts, you can listen to Seamus Heaney recite his work.  It’s a profoundly moving experience, especially listening to Mid Term Break (about the death of his brother) and Mossbawn: Sunlight, one of two poems dedicated to his Aunt Mary.  To hear Heaney recite his own work is a privilege.

Dockers by Seamus Heaney is included in the CCEA Identity Poetry Anthology which means Mr L gets to teach a new group of students about his hero and play around with AI images.  The anthology is available as a beautifully presented booklet of A4 posters with annotation boxes for easy revision.  A different, visual way to revise.

The HomePlace isn’t a huge venue, but it packs so much in.  As well as the main exhibition there is a library displaying hundreds of books that have been donated by the Heaney family, a performance space, a gallery with a range of arts and crafts activities to inspire poets of all ages and a great café.  The café is highly recommended by our teenager! Plus, of course, mention of his Nobel Prize for Literature.

It’s a space that throws a bright light on Heaney, his life, his family, and is a reminder of the worldwide impact of his work.

If you want to read Heaney’s work, try this - 100 poems, an anthology chosen and introduced by the Heaney family.  You can buy it from the HomePlace


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